Best Budget Vacation: Hawaii for Fitness Freaks

Yep, it's pretty there!

So sure, the title of this post is just the usual pathetic scrambling around for googleable catch-phrases, as this is really just a recap of a recent Hawaii trip with beloved spouse and mother-in-law.

But please don't wander away just yet!  Because there are indeed 5 handy tips for health and fitness enthusiasts looking for a cheap Hawaii vacation. Plus, bonus: view an unflattering picture of Crabby lounging stark naked in a hot tub! And gosh, with that inducement, how can you resist accompanying us on our Affordable Hawaiian Holiday?

Top Five Budget Hawaii Fitness Vacation Tips

1. Sponge Off The Rich People

While we stayed in an extremely affordable condo, we happened to be within reasonable walking and driving distance from a number of Big-Ass Fancy Resorts. The resorts were sitting right on lovely beaches, many of which were accessible to low lives like us the general public if you knew where to park.

If there's anything better than whiling away a few hours at a tropical beach practicing your surfing, swimming, snorkeling, barefoot running, or napping skills--it's knowing that most of the other folks nearby were willing to fork over huge buckets of money in order to plop their affluent asses on the very same stretch of sand.  

Not Ejected Yet!

There were no riff-raff detectors in the resort's restrooms, bars, lobby, lounges, landscaped grounds, or hiking paths. So by forgoing the 10,000 threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets or whatever the hell the resorts are luring people in with these days, we got the same awesome pampered feeling. For free!

And not only that, the resort we were closest to had a great fitness center that cost only $15 bucks a day if you bought a shareable package of 10 visits. (And yes, I am neurotic and somewhat exercise-addicted. But $75 for 5 visits was way cheaper than the expensive therapy I'd need to treat my problem. Plus, I figure it's a public service!  A good workout in the morning makes me far less of a pain in the ass for the world to deal with).

But here's the very best part: besides a good selection of cardio and strength equipment and fitness classes, the fitness center day pass included FREE ACCESS TO THE LOVELY SPA!!

It was the kind of upscale place where everything smells good and they give you robes and slippers and big fluffy towels, and you can help yourself to free fruit and tea, enjoy the outdoor lava hot tub or the sauna or the steam room and scare other people away by giggling inappropriately. Even just taking a leisurely shower with pleasantly scented shampoos and soaps was heavenly.  And again, you can luxuriate in the fact that other people are booking hundreds of dollars in spa services to support the whole enterprise while you rub your own darn feet!

Rectangular red swimsuit tops will be all the rage soon, I swear.

Note: if you're curious enough to inquire in the comments, and plan to vacation on the Big Island, I'll pop down and let you know which particular fancy resort spa deal I'm talking about.

2. Create Your Own Excursions

Hiking down to Waipio Valley with the adventurous Lobster: Free!
(And no extra charge for the blisters. That's one steep-ass hike.)

There are great swimming and sightseeing and hiking opportunities on all the islands, and if you've already rented a vehicle (or in some cases, a bike) there's almost too much to enjoy for free.

Try some new fitness activity, or at least try something familiar in a totally new environment. Hiking up a steep mountain, swimming in an ocean, or biking through a lava field are very different experiences than the treadmill, lap pool, or spin class.   And sure, if you're coming for the 19th time, then go ahead and spring for tours and rides and various expensive excursions, some of which are probably wonderful.  But if you want to pare down costs, investing in a guide book (or checking one out at the library, or using the web) will help you discover all kinds of options to keep you and your family active and entertained without having to sell one of the kids into slavery.  (Well, unless it's a particularly obnoxious kid, in which case a cool helicopter ride to peek at rivers of molten lava might be kinda tempting.)

3. Hit the Grocery Store and Eat Out Strategically


Yes, many areas in Hawaii actually have real live grocery stores, and even natural food specialty places selling all kinds of healthy consumables at a small fraction the price you'd pay at a restaurant or snack bar for junky guilt-inducing meals. Setting is everything, and if you can bring some of your own healthy meals to a scenic location, you can have the twice the relaxing atmosphere of a swanky restaurant for a lot less money. If you don't have a place with a kitchen, a big cheap styrofoam cooler might be a very worthwhile investment.

But, hell, you're on vacation! Who wants to spend the whole time shopping and cooking and doing dishes or obsessing over whether the bell peppers in your salad are organic?

So don't be a total tightwad/healthfreak/martyr and prepare every meal yourself with only the purest ingredients.  Have fun too!

Mai Tai's have fruit in 'em... gotta be full of antioxidants!

4. Screw the Souvenirs

So what's up with the idea that you need more than a few photos, a sunburn, and a slightly used cocktail umbrella to remember your awesome vacation?  Do you really need matching Muu-Muus and Aloha shirts for the whole family? And will you come to regret the anatomically correct tiki wood carving of the naked male deity once he's back from his native island and sitting in your living room strutting his stuff?

You may want to skip the shopping, or, if you find something  truly unique and special, make sure it's fairly priced and something you could still appreciate without having swilled a few exotic libations first.

5. Marry Someone With a Crapload of Frequent Flyer Miles.

If this seems impractical for whatever odd reason (perhaps your current spouse is not 100% on board with the plan?) then I believe there are ways to secure good deals on flights.  This probably involves either clever advance planning or the ability to drop everything and wing off on a moment's notice. But what the heck do I know? If you googled into a blog called Cranky Fitness expecting to get the latest hot tip on airline deals I am terribly, terribly sorry to disappoint you. But just think how how those people googling "big bouncy breasts" feel when they get to an old post on sports bras?  It could be way worse.

So How Did Crabby Do On Her Plan Not to F--- Up Her Vacation By Excessive Worrying?

Pretty darn awesome!  Well, aside from a minor tantrum or two over not having internet access.  The inspiring scenery and warm breezes, plus the foresight to pack some meditation tapes and a whole new slew of self-improvement books, seemed to have had a salutary effect.

Next self-development task for Crabby: to deal with an overflowing inbox, laundry basket, and other daunting re-entry tasks without letting real life totally harsh the Hawaiian mellow.

How about you folks, any tips on saving money on vacations? Or staying fit while traveling? Or handling vacation re-entry? Or heck, just let me know what I missed while I was gone!

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